Student recruiters meet admissions frenzy

When a high school senior’s father called the admissions office last week, undergraduate recruitment coordinator Leo Stevens ’05 was there to answer the phone. Stevens attempted to calm the senior, whose high school teacher had told her to “forget Yale” after discovering a missing comma in her application essay.

As the deadline for early decision applications approaches, 38 Hillhouse Ave. becomes a more frenzied place, and student recruiters are there to help control the chaos.

Yalies answer the hundreds of e-mails that are sent to the office every day and talk to prospective students on the phone. They meet with prospective applicants when they come into the office, send out applications, and put reader cards in applicants’ folders. And they often help dispel the myths about the office that they themselves once accepted as truth.

Julia Solomon ’05, an undergraduate recruitment coordinator, said she used to envision the office as a “big room of old men.”

“I didn’t have any idea when I was applying that students were involved,” Solomon said. “There are a lot more people involved than I ever really thought of. They’re most of all just excited to meet prospective students, to just get the best group of people.”

Chris Huffman ’05, another recruiter, said despite the anxiety and excitement associated with college admissions, he thinks the selection process is actually somewhat mundane.

“I get the impression it’s very unexciting, like, yeah, we read everyone’s applications and figure out who the best people are,” Huffman said. “I think it’s overdramatized.”

Stevens said he enjoys the chance to let applicants know what Yale students are like — “to show them that we’re not stuck up or anything like that” — and to alleviate their fears about the process.

“They’re usually pretty panicked when they come in,” he said. “They usually leave feeling a lot calmer about the whole process, I hope. We kind of know what they’re going through.”

Most of the e-mails the office receives are straightforward questions from high schoolers about the admissions process, but there are some that require more creative responses, said admissions recruiter Elliott Mogul ’05.

“We get e-mails from 12-year-olds wondering about choosing high schools,” Mogul said. “We just tell them to enjoy high school and do their best.”

While working at the admissions office may not be mysterious, recruiters said, it is a good place to meet lots of interesting people and share one’s love for Yale.

“You just gain the chance to talk to the kids that are visiting Yale and convince them of what makes Yale different from other schools,” recruiter Chris Hanson ’05 said. “It’s a lot of fun because you’ll go through periods when it’s really intense like right now, and at other times, it’s just talking to students and really laid back — you can just hang out with the kids that visit.”

Jeremiah Quinlan ’03 did on-campus interviews with applicants full-time over the summer — about 30 interviews a week — and is continuing his work part-time during the school year. Both interviewing and giving campus tours are ways for him to “sell the school,” he said.

“You meet some pretty amazing kids,” Quinlan said. “I had a tremendous amount of fun.”

Student recruiters said they expected the office to process many applications, but are still shocked by the amount of paper that comes pouring into the office every day.

“I’ve been impressed with the volume of stuff that they’re able to handle,” Huffman said. “For example, all the cards that came back — just baskets and baskets full.”

The admissions process is so demystified for those who work there that they were hard pressed to come up with anything surprising about the office.

“There are so many people who work there from the Baker’s Dozen,” Hanson said, explaining that even that is not so mysterious. “My boss was in the Baker’s Dozen.”

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